Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unbiased review of the Duster - Part 3: Unfinished business in Anamudi Shola

This post should have come under Mango Musings but I've placed it here because it qualifies as Woodcrawling! To see the earlier post of the 'Unbiased review of the Duster' see the post in Mango Musings

A little more than three and a half months ago we had discovered a lovely little place during our trip to Munnar.  (Link here).

For two people who had been used to sitting in a safari jeep and going around the same tracks in the hope of catching the eye of a predator it was a new experience.Here was a scenario where we were in the wilderness we loved so much, but instead of getting driven we were driving ourselves. That meant we were in control of where we stopped, how long we stopped and what we could do. That evening we spent in Maryoor had left an indelible impression on both of us. We had be limited by our transport and the opinions of a few people who probably had some ulterior motives to prevent us from going ahead. Despite encouragement from some unexpected quarters we weren't sure of testing the terrain in a hatchback with less than ideal ground clearance.

1st, November 2012, I took delivery of our Duster. It was a vehicle that had appeared in the horizon earlier in the year and we had booked in July. It had been a long wait but we had to ourselves a gentle beast to carry us to place we had never been to before. I had tested it out in and around Palakkad (link here) but there was nothing here like the Anamudi shola.

So on the 18th, November we were off to see how the Duster would handle the shola. There was a full complement of five passengers and a boot full of photography gear and food. We left at 6.30 AM because we had to be back by nightfall. I hate driving after sunset these days, and since our route was to take us through an area I had not traveled in I could not really predict how long I had to be at the wheel.

The sun was still hiding when we crossed Pollachi (45 kms) onto Udumalapet (75 kms). The wind turbines stood like sentinels in the maize fields and the road was tempting. I'm a sedate driver normally but I succumbed to temptation and let the Renault K9 engine have some fun. The needle was nudging 130 kph when I ran out of road for speed test, besides I thought the people in the back seat were making noises, so I eased off. The memories of chasing a Santro on NH 47 weren't too pleasant. The Duster was rock steady at that speed. Absolutely no feeling of the wheels going out of control anytime or the engine straining.


We stopped for breakfast at the Chinnar checkpost (105 kms). The EDC canteen does not have breakfast unless you pre-order but they let you take your packed food and use their dining area. Of course, you won't believe if I told you they couldn't even provide a cup of tea! Please keep a fiver ready if you want to use the toilets; they rarely have change! (Fuel efficiency shown by the instrument panel FE calculator was 17.5 till this point)





































If you want tea, stop at Karimutty (118kms). The little tea shop at the bridge serves nice tea.



The road to Anamudi shola splits off to the left at Marayoor (120kms), just after the petrol station as you up come up the last curve. The rocky slopes on either side of the road from Marayoor to Kanthaloor are dotted with 'muniyaras' or dolmens, the ancient tribal burial sites. These simple tombs are empty now and are worth a brief stopover if you have time to spare.



You can go up to the 'muniyaras' through the Goverment school that is situated on the upper curve of an S-bend as you reach Kovilkadavu. The other option, which is actually better, is to look for a board on your left about a kilometer after the turn off near the petrol station, (much before the school I mentioned). This small road takes you to the top of the hillock where the 'muniyaras' are. You can park at the bottom and walk up or drive up if you have a car with an attitude!

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We didn't hang around too long exploring the tombs. We had a long drive before lunch and I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the shola. The sugarcane fields of Kanthaloor were filled with cane ready to be harvested. We reached Kanthaloor (135 kms) just before 11 AM. If an old man waves you down at the forest check post you can ignore him. He only wants to take you on a guided tour of Kanthaloor's fruit farms! The board pointing to Anamudi Shola suddenly seemed very familiar even though I had been on this road only once earlier. Perhaps a gaur would be waiting for us!

Easwari's stall  (138 kms) signalled the entry to the Shola. This time she had a larger variety of fruits including custard apple, guavas and bananas but no pears! She told us there had been no rains so the road was not so tough to travel on. It was then we realized there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was extremely warm for a place in the hills. 

Upto now we had either traveled on highways or relatively narrow and winding ghat roads. The instrument panel's fuel efficiency calculator was now showing 15.6 kmpl. The next 7 or 8 kilometers were going to be a test for the Duster. 

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There was no rain so it would be relatively easy. Absence of flowing water on the track would mean less chance of deeply eroded parts filled with slush or mud that could hide invisible dangers. I would know where my tire was going exactly. The last thing anyone would want is a tire burst! I had reached a bridge with a little cascade on my previous trip and that was my first destination.

A half hour break here enjoying the beautiful sounds and sights of nature we decide to move on. As we rolled over the loose cobbles on the track I could feel the Dusters power. No sudden jumps or slips. It just moved forward like the Nilgiri Tahr. I just had to point it in the direction I wanted it to go and it went forward where it was meant to go. I was mostly in second or first gears, and rarely in the third. The track gets more rough as we climb further.


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The bright sun that had been with us till Easwari's shop was struggling to pentrate the canopy. The rough track was getting more narrower we progressed that I was left wondering where I'd go if a vehicle came from the opposite direction.












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My fears were unfounded. The Duster was exhibiting its versatility and it seemed completely at ease in this environment. After about 8 kilometers of negotiating this rough track we reached the other end of the shola. It had taken us a hour (excluding the half hour spent at the little bridge) to cover this distance. There were no complaints of aches and pains after the constant bouncing. The car itself had not exhibited any strain. The fuel efficiency had come down to 13 kmpl after this stretch, which was not bad considering the fact that I had been driving in 1st or 2nd gear all through, with many stoppages.


There was no gaur or elephant waiting for us on the track but signs of their presence were all around.  We weren't disappointed though; the langur sentry fixed us with a glare that was filled with contempt. He knew the four adults and child below him were incapable of climbing his tree. He continued foraging without a second thought. 


The Malabar Giant Squirrel, whom we met near the watch tower on top of the shola, was even more  nonchalant in his expression. It seemed that we were invisible to him as gave a show for nearly 10 minutes at touching distance.


Outside the shola the landscape changes instantly. Within a few feet of the  forest check post the the vegetable farms and tea estates start. Though there is a fencing between them there was a distinct possibility of curious animals straying out of their territory.

Clear cloudless skies above us and winding roads under, our next stop was Kundala dam which we could see in the distance

  

There is a whole lot of Idukki district that will keep a Woodcrawler interested. I was constrained by the limitations imposed by my car. Now I have a vehicle that can take me anywhere without batting an eyelid (if it had one!) and without burning a deep hole in my pocket.

 Watch this space....... Mathikettan Shola and Pampadum Shola are on the radar now!


For the Duster Fans only
Total distance: 338  kms
Fuel consumed: (full tank to full tank): 22 liters (filled after 352 kms)
Fuel efficiency: Highway - 18 +/-, Hills - 15 +/-, Off road - 12 +/- (based on figures shown on the FE calculator in the instrument panel). Overall - 16 kmpl (based on topping up after 352 kms)
Ride quality: Excellent. There were two people with bad backs in the car. Despite the grueling drive in the Anamdi Shola, neither of us felt even a twinge of pain. On the highway there is no body roll even at high speeds and at no point do you get the feeling that you are losing control.
Engine noise: Barely audible even when negotiating tough roads in low gears, almost silent on highway
Gears: Easy shifting, no strain between 2000 to 3000 rpm, shift down if you run below 1500 rpm. I have found the clutch as easy as in my Punto. Drivers shifting from petrol engines might take a little time to get used to the heavier clutch and frequent need for down shifting.
Steering: Easy and ultra steady. It was only when the wheels slipped of loose rocks that I felt a wobble, which I think is natural. Again, people shiftin from a smaller or lighter car might find it a bit stiff.
Tires: Excellent on the highway. Minor slipping on loose gravel in the Shola. The OE MRF Wanderers seemed to be better suited to paved roads than off-roading. Have to test it out on rough terrain in the rains.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Trivandrum Zoo and the Genesis of Richard Parker

A little over a week ago, Ang Lee's 3D fantasy movie 'Life of Pi' released in theaters. I was in Trivandrum that morning and had half a mind to book myself for a late night show. After spending a little thought on it I realized it wouldn't really fit into my plans.

I was there for a conference and booked into the Mascot Hotel where the food quality of food ( for a hotel of it's repute) was abysmal. Trivandrum's hotels, including KFC, were famous for all the wrong reasons. People were falling ill and even dying after eating in hotels there so  I wasn't sure it was always like that or only because a bunch of ophthalmologists were going to be swarming the premises for a three day conference. Whatever the reason, the breakfast and lunch we got that day had us searching for more palatable stuff outside it's walls!

We had an evening to kill and the 'Life of Pi' was ruled out because we felt it had nothing in it for a 10 year old and his priority seemed to be the dinner rather than a movie. I would have to wait for the movie to hit theaters in my town, whenever that would be. Meanwhile, I thought it would be appropriate to show my son the Zoo that told a story.

Yann Martel says that "most books come from the same mix of three elements: influence, inspiration and hard work".

You can read the essay he wrote on 'How I wrote the Life of Pi' here. 

While he was researching for his book he spent time in South India scouring the various zoos for six months in 1996. Richard Parker actually changed avatar from a elephant to a rhino and finally to the tiger. So, to understand a tiger's life he spent 15 days at the Trivandrum Zoo observing them! I'm just wondering, if 15 days at a zoo watching caged tiger can inspire a book, I should have material for many!  Perhaps, I should signup for a refresher course in English to polish up my writing skills!

Anyway, I wanted to see what was the inspiring thing about tigers he saw in the Trivandrum Zoo so I thought I'd go. Besides, it would keep my son busy till dinner!

There is a rather unflattering report of the Zoo and it's visitors from the Guardian by Luke Harding after Yann Martel was awarded the Booker Prize. Of course it would be too much to expect anything else from the Guardian. After all anything that is not British is not proper!

Read the Guardian article here

A Bit of History:
The Trivandrum Zoo, considered the oldest in the country, took shape during the time of Swathi Thirunal (1813 - 1847)  a King and composer. He had a collection of animals in the royal stables that were caught and caged from the forests in and around Travancore. The Zoo itself, in it's present form, was created in 1859 under the rule of Uthram Thirunal Maharaja. The carnivore house was apparently designed on the model of cages in the Zoological Gardens in London. The zoo today is more animal friendly and most of the animals roam in open enclosures.

Entry into the Zoo is by tickets and no plastic is allowed inside. You can deposit your bags and plastics at the entrance. There are kiosks and water coolers inside in case you want a bite or quench your thirst.

The last time I went there was many years ago and I could see things had changed. Unfortunately, we were constrained by time on this visit because it was a rather impromptu trip to the zoo.

The lion tailed macaques are the first creatures you encounter and they look bored. I was wondering how these simians never felt like climbing over the wall of their enclosure. There was no netting to prevent their exit and the trees in their enclosure had branches that reached out to the trees outside! Even a bunch of bananas failed to enthuse some of them.






Across the macaque's enclosure is a traditional Kerala building that could pass off as a house. House it is, but belongs to the King Cobras.


You cross a few monkey cages to reach this ancient building that house a few raptors and owls. Photography in most of these cages is very difficult. They have bars and meshes in multiple layers,  not only to prevent the creatures from escaping but also to stop annoying tourists from disturbing them.



The rhino was not in a mood and neither was the lion. Both of them were in another world perhaps like Africa!




The black bear wouldn't even lift up its nose from the ground it was digging into. The hippos were the happiest lot; wallowing in the pool, occasionally lifting up their heads and snorting in bliss.



The big cats are all above and beside the hippo enlosure. You can hear them growl long before you see them. All of them look well looked after, though most of them have that vacant look of a prisoner who has been watching the world go by monotonously.



This guy was pacing his cage and growling. A magnificent specimen that could be Richard Parker.


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This one was growling without lifting it's head. Maybe annoyed by the ruckus the two males on either side of her were creating!
 The other big guy too was pacing his cage looking across at the other male. Perhaps the lady was the cause of their impatience!

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The lone jaguar was nowhere to be seen. It is a creature of the night and was likely sleeping off the daylight as were the lioness'.


The most majestic of them all, who could have been Richard Parker, had a larger enclosure. His attitude seemed to suggest that us lesser mortals were not worth even a passing glance. A mongoose had got into his space and was taking quick bites off his meat (see to the left of the tiger), but he chose not to react except for turning his ears backward occasionally.

The tigers of Trivandrum Zoo were all in excellent condition. It speaks of the care that the keepers give them. Perhaps they would have a personality disorder, being confined to the barred enclosures.  They should be more adventurous, like Marty the lion from Madgascar (the movie)!

It still leaves me wondering what Yann Martel could have learnt about the behaviour of tigers from a zoo in 15 days. He'd have learnt more if he could have spent time with a person like Ullas Karanth in the field or reading Kenneth Anderson or Jim Corbett!!

I'm still waiting for the movie to release in a theater near me. Maybe I'll change my opinion about Martel after that!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Padmanabhapuram palace - A Masterpiece in Wood

Time and again, over the last few months, I've preached about measuring distances in time. Sometimes, it is better to take the advice of someone in the know of things than make foolish decisions about places you don't know.

I was in Trivandrum for a conference and I had to keep a 10 year old engaged. I had promised him a trip to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) so the second day of conference was set aside for it. 87 kilometers from Trivandrum to me was a 2 hour drive logically and since I wasn't going to be at the wheel I thought it would be faster!


I wanted to go to Kanyakumari do the usual trip to the Vivekananda rock and also see if I could do Padmanabhapuram palace, Suchindram and a couple of other temples and a waterfall. The total distance would not be more than 250 kilometers and I was sure a leisurely start after an early breakfast would see us back in Trivandrum for the Banquet in the evening to be hosted by the organizers of the conference.

The taxi driver called up to tell that if we were to do the entire program, we'd have to start at 6.00 AM and would only be back by 10.00 PM! I did not go to Trivandrum to get hauled out of bed at 4.30 AM. Hey! I find even 5.30 AM unearthly! I told him we'd leave after breakfast and do what ever we could in 12 hours.

I have maintained that NH-47 is a nightmare and my feeling were reinforced on that day. The taxi driver had told us it would be an endless traffic jam all the way to Kanyakumari and he wasn't wrong. There was a KSRTC bus with a punctured front tyre on the railway overbrigde near the Trivandrum station. Five minutes into the trip and we were caught in a seemingly impossible situation. It took some 20 minutes to get past the jam and I was getting a bit annoyed. My driver said that there was a route through Kovalam and Poovar that could help us avoid the traffic at least part of the way so we took the road he suggested. I consented grudgingly because I was responsible for the immediate situation.

That route was only slightly better; winding and narrow, overtaking was nearly impossible so we were part of a long line of vehicles that crawled like a toy snake. Every now and then a vehicle would pop out of the line like  the toy snake's section, only to quickly return to it's rightful place, as an oncoming vehicle would ensure it could not jump the queue!


Three hours into the journey, at 11.45 AM we had reached Thuckalay, some 50 odd kilometers from Kanyakumari. The Padmanabhapuram Palace, the home to the rulers of the erstwhile Travancore was located here. After the reorganization of the states in 1956, Padmanabhapuram became part of the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu. Perhaps, politicians those days were more magnanimous; the administration of the palace was retained by the Government of Kerala. However, the income and expenditure are shared equally by the two states. Amazing cooperation!

Since walking through the Palace does not qualify as Woodcrawling I am posting a blog on the Padmanabhapuram palace in Mango Musings as a series.

You can read it here.

What will come here next is a contemporary post with a link to the past. Everyone is talking about 'The Life of Pi', Ang Lee's latest movie in 3D. Few know that the author of the book it is based on, Yann Martel actually did research for his book in the Trivandrum Zoo. I'll tell you about it shortly.....

Sunday, November 04, 2012

DUSTERMANIA

No woodcrawling for a little more time and Kuvempu's poetry is still with the translator.

Meanwhile a new addition to the stable; the Renault Duster



You can read an unbiased review in Mango Musings.....

.....and see some more pictures here.

Enjoy....


Monday, October 22, 2012

Authors, Poets & Woodcrawling - Part 3: Kasturi Akka & Doddamane


Link to previous post is here 

DODDAMANE
We dropped by on Kasturi Akka, the matriarch of Doddmane. She has soaked in all the adulation that comes out of being a gracious host to a variety of back packing individuals. I say 'back packing' because Doddamane is for the back packer. If you are looking for the comforts of a three star hotel (forget five star) you will be better off looking for accommodation in Udupi (55 kms) or Sringeri (25 kms) depending on which direction you come from.



It is also the centerpiece of the TV Serial "Malgudi Days", directed by Late Shankar Nag, based on a collection of short stories by R.K Narayan, in the same name.

It s evident that Doddmane has seen better times. In it's heydays there were some 45 people living together under it's roof. Even in it's current state it was impressively big. The front door opens into a central courtyard open on top.
























The kitchen and dining area was opposite the front door and the rear portion had the well and bathrooms.



















There are cots all along the corridors with clothes hangers above them. I guess, if you were not very particular about having a room to yourself it is a good option. The natural ventilation of the courtyard will make sleeping a wonderful experience.









In any case, I think it is THE better option because the bedrooms on the ground floor (where the doors were open) seemed a little cramped. Unless you need place to store lots of gear the corridors should do fine.

Kasturi Akka is a gentle but firm lady. She is strict about timings (5AM to 10PM) and your habits (no smoking or drinking on premises). Meal timings are slightly flexible but supper order closes by 8PM. No fancy menu but simple local fare.

As a matter of fact we had a demo of how 'strict' she can be as we were talking to her. One of her guests who was on his way for a trek came to inform about his dinner order. He wanted chapatis with vegetable curry and 'white rice'. Kasturi Akka very firmly told him, chapatis would not be a problem but 'white rice' would, because "None of us like 'white rice', we prefer 'red rice' because it is more tasty". The conversation ended there. There is no arguing with the head of the house especially when it is told with a smile that says, "take it or leave it" !

You can stay in Doddamane or just eat there. You'll have to inform or request in advance. That she'll even pack food if you are going on a trek is what I read in one blog but another says "No take aways"! To contact her just call 08181233075

We were served a glass of butter milk and given an orange (home grown) each. The butter milk was heavenly, so was the sight of the food two other visitors were eating! I have no doubt in my mind that whatever she served would be fine if you liked home cooked vegetarian food.

Kasturi Akka's daughter was at home since it was a Sunday. Usually her job takes her to Manipal, a journey of 3 hours daily (two-ways), so she is around to help only on weekends & holidays. On the other days Kasturi Akka manages with the help of another lady.

I'm in my elements when I take pictures in the wild or outdoors and when my subject is not human but I am more than a little squeamish about taking pictures in someone else's house especially a complete strangers so I took very little pictures inside the house. If you want to see more click this link to another blog on Doddamane

We weren't sure if we should pay for the butter milk and oranges and when we offered to, she refused saying, "If you came to your Ajji's house would you pay?" To her we were house guests on that day, not a paying guest. She promised she'd take money when we came as a tourist. If you plan a visit to Doddmane, remember that there are no fixed charges. Kasturi Akka will take anything you give without even counting, in complete good faith. What you pay is based on your judgement of your experience at Doddamane. I'm sure if your tastes are simple you'll not be disappointed!

We bid goodbye to Kasturi Akka promising to return. ARRS and Agumbe deserved more than a couple of days and Doddamane is the best base station in Agumbe.

The next post on Kuppalli will come up shortly. The delay is due the translation of Kuvempu's poem, "Mane Mane Muddumane"


Authors, Poets & Woodcrawling - Part 2: Agumbe & the elusive Hamadrayd

Link to previous post is here

6th October, 2012

As I had mentioned in my last post I was in Udupi to be a part of the Alumini Meet hosted by my college. The meet was scheduled to for 6.30 PM on Saturday but since we had taken a night train from Palakkad we were deposited in Mangalore station at 4.30 AM. Fortunately, the taxi agency had sent the car to pick us up and we were in Udupi by 6.30 AM.

We had 12 hours at our disposal so I had planned to utilize the day to make a trip to Agumbe. The road passes through Someshwara WLS and the drive itself is beautiful.

Agumbe, for those unfamiliar with the name, is nothing more than a little junction with a few houses and government buildings clustered around. It's claim to fame is that it is the 'rainiest' place in all of South India and second only to Cherrapunji. It was identified as the perfect habitat for the Hamadryad or the King Cobra by Romulus Whittaker and the main purpose of my visit was to drop in at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS), established by him in 2005 for research on the King Cobra and the ecology of the rainforest in which it lived.

I lived in Manipal between January of 1985 and June of 1996 and had traveled up the Agumbe Ghats or more than one occasion, mainly as a part of the team conducting cataract screening camps in rural Karnataka. Agumbe was just a village on the route because there was nothing much there to stop over for. The only place, in those days. to get decent food was in Thirthahalli, 30 kilometers away.As a student and later as faculty the beauty of nature in and around Udupi and Shimoga bypassed me. Perhaps, the beaches and parties were to blame!

As I researched Agumbe I realized that 12 hours was too short to explore this pristine area but since I had made up my mind I decided I'd use this opportunity to recce the area before planning a longer trip. One of my friends put me through to someone in Karkala who informed me that the smallest trek around Agumbe would need half a day. It was disappointing. My search for the Hamadryad would have to wait. Besides, it seemed that the rain God's aren't partial to anyone. The failure of the monsoon had its effect in Agumbe too. The reputation as the second most 'rainiest' place in India sounded hollow as we reached Sunset Point at the top of the ghat road.









 The bonnet macaques were also busy grooming themselves in the warm sun occasionally reaching out for the tidbits thrown by passing tourist.



One of them seemed pretty upset with a hoarding that was blocking it's route up the hill and it was going about systematically tearing it up. I guess the simian's action was justified since the eyesore was put on the road side where there is hardly any space for parking.



 


There was not a rain cloud in sight and the place was crowded with day trippers. It was supposed to be a bandh in Karnataka to protest against the Supreme Court's decision on release of Cauvery waters to Tamilnadu but the people in this part of the world were seemingly unaffected.

The view was great but it was not time for sunset so we drove on towards Agumbe.












No rains meant more crowds & less chances for an encounter with leeches and king cobras. We decided to push on to Kuppalli and do the ARRS on our return leg. (So the rest of this narrative is actually the part of our drive on the way back from Kuppalli.)






The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS), is not on the road side and there is no board or sign post to show you the way. Once you reach Agumbe, from Udupi, the road that goes straight ahead from the junction is to Sringeri.







The road to Thirthahalli and Shimoga turns left and goes past the bus station on your right.














 A 100 meters down the road is a group of houses with a board of the local chicken center hanging on the fence. Turn left onto the mud track between the houses and follow your instinct! If you happen to cross a church or a bridge after Agumbe on the main road, you have most likely shot past the track to ARRS (like us!). Make a U-turn and keep your eyes peeled for that little board  with the picture of a chicken!

The ARRS lies at the very end of the track. The forest department has started fencing off the jungle now so I guess you'll have a fence to guide you in the not too distant future. The issue is that as the track proceeds it becomes narrower, barely sufficient for a car to pass. Even if a motorcycle comes opposite to you you'll probably have to back up. A better option would be to park your vehicle just before the narrow stretch and walk down the last 100 meters or so.


The ARRS is an old farmhouse, renovated to be used as a research center. The researchers usually stay onsite with a few permanent staff. We were hoping to meet Gowri Shankar but we were a little too late. He was away, apparently doing a PhD somewhere. I was told that the King Cobra project was for a period of 5 years and the Karnataka forest department (KFD) had not renewed the permit for the team to enter & research in the surrounding jungles. The current researcher was doing something on the snake headed fish but he was still waiting for his forest entry permit! KFD also has been grappling with a naxalite problem which is probably why they are wary of give new permits now.






The elusive Hamadryad would continue to remain elusive till our next visit. I walked down the track for a little distance hoping to see some movement in the undergrowth but the only thing that caught my eye were a pair of amorous bugs!















As we drove back towards the village my wife spotted three hornbills on a tree. I wasn't prepared for birds. I had come with a head filled with images of reptiles, amphibians and bugs so the camera I had packed was not meant for birding. Even if I could switch lenses the reach of a 150mm would have been inadequate from our position. Besides, birds aren't going to be waiting for you to do that. I just jumped out of the car and scampered back to the tree. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be my day. The birds were off looking for better prospects on some other tree. From one grainy shot (due to the inbuilt 2x Digital Teleconvertor) it looked like juveniles of the Malabar or Lesser Pied Hornbill.




Back at the village we dropped by at Doddamane, made famous by R.K Narayan's  creation Swami. The TV serial "Malgudi Days" was shot in the 150 year old house and it is the only option for home stay in Agumbe. I have posted a separate blog for Doddamane because I think the BIG HOUSE deserves it.The inspection bugalow is apparently the other alternative but I didn't even bother to ask. I have a phobia about getting booted out of Goverment property at odd hours because some "babu" turned up!! Another option is the ARRS provided there are no volunteers of ongoing research staying.

We didn't stop at Sunset Point it was more crowded than the morning and cloudy too. Besides, we had a party to attend in Manipal......

(Please note: All the words highlighted in YELLOW above, open links related to that word)